Saturday, February 10, 2007

Mothballls are for the birds!

My dream is for people to message me or comment on my blog with things in their families' environment that are making them twitchy. (Hint, hint, beg, beg: Please send in research requests!!)

I have to settle for hunting down "Top Tin" candidates right now. One poster, Anneliese, wanted to know if her friend's dire warnings about the dangers of moth balls were accurate or mere paranoia.

Ooooh, something new to worry about! I live in South Florida, and have never lived above the Florida Georgia border. We have a lot less of a dramatic change in the seasons here, and I have never seen (or smelled) a moth ball. I need Tinfoil Hat scouts in the northern realms to keep me up to date on these things.

Well, it looks like naphthalene is definitely a "Top Tin" chemical candidate. (My nerdy scientist heart goes all a flutter for words that have a "phth" in them. Naphthalene. Phthalate. Ooooh!!) Naphthalene is the main ingredient in moth balls, and other stinky household cleaning items like bathroom deodorizers. This doozy of a chemical is apparently highly carcinogenic and toxic, even when inhaled.

Here is a totally nerdy government website summing up two years of research on the chemical:

An example of the conclusions in this study:

"Increased incidences of nonneoplastic lesions of the nose associated with exposure to naphthalene included atypical hyperplasia, atrophy, chronic inflammation, and hyaline degeneration of the olfactory epithelium; hyperplasia, squamous metaplasia, hyaline degeneration, and goblet cell hyperplasia of the respiratory epithelium; and glandular hyperplasia and squamous metaplasia."

Here is a much easier to read website from my new favorite group, Beyond Pesticides:

"Naphthalene can also be absorbed easily through the skin and is a known irritant. Parents of newborns are especially cautioned because studies have shown reactions including acute hemolysis, jaundice and death in infants wrapped in blankets that had been stored with moth balls over the summer."

Uh, holy Tinfoil Hat!!!!

I will continue storing our few sweaters and scarves in air tight large plastic bins. Please, my northern friends, let me know where your sweaters are right now, and what you are doing to keep them from being moth eaten during the summer.

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